8 writers | 5 days | 4 workshops | 2 notes sessions | 29 meetings
And that was just the beginning!
WeScreenplay’s TV Pilot Competition delivers a one-of-a-kind virtual writing lab hosted by top managers, agents, writers, and more. Winners take part in an interactive 4-day virtual lab with hands-on workshops and industry meetings while learning from working TV writers.
But what’s the lab all about and how can it help you advance in your career? Well, since we just wrapped up our 2022 TV Pilot Lab, it seems like the perfect time to give you an overview of what this awesome opportunity can offer you as an emerging screenwriter, as well as first-hand accounts from this year’s TV Pilot winners of what the experience was like for them.
Check out the video below to hear from the participants, and then continue on for a deep dive into what the lab’s all about.
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For our 2022 TV Pilot Lab, winners participated in a Writers’ Room Workshop with Naren Shankar, showrunner on The Expanse, a Rep’s Perspective Workshop with AE Jones of Stagecoach Entertainment, and a Pitching Masterclass with Jim Arnoff.
But what was it like on the ground? Here are a couple of insights from the winners themselves.
Competition winner Ellen Tremiti was a big fan of the mock writers’ room:
“I loved the mock writers’ room. Hearing from a veteran showrunner and getting a firsthand look into the process of creating a season of television was inspiring and invaluable.”
Competition winner Hymnson Chan mentioned the utility of Naren Shankar’s real-world guidance:
“Learning from showrunner Naren Shankar, about how a TV show breaks an entire season from the very beginning concepts to final locked-in scripts, pre-production to post, was an amazing experience and great prep for anyone hoping to get staffed in a writers room one day!”
Shankar shared The Expanse’s final season notecard board from the writers’ room, a 60-page season document that was submitted to the network, and a production script for the writers to read ahead of the workshop. That kind of insider information is usually fiercely guarded.
Mentorship Group Meetings
The writers had group meetings with executives, literary managers, and other TV writers to get a comprehensive learning experience of a professional screenwriting career. Each session had a mentor who would share their experience and area of expertise followed by a Q&A with the writers.
The writers met with execs and managers from Make Good Content, Fourth Wall Entertainment, Sony, Stagecoach Entertainment, and professional TV Writers Brandon Hines and Lucy Luna. Competition winner Alonso Mayo explains his experience being immersed in a lab full of not only fellow writers but industry professionals as well:
“It was great. When you are around passionate people and you get to hear from passionate people…I think it’s awesome. And you hear so many different points of view and takes on things. To me, it was invaluable.”
Peer Notes Sessions
Before the lab, all the winning scripts were shared with the group. During a session, the group then shared script notes verbally. While all the winning scripts are already strong, the purpose of this notes session was to refine the work, to allow the writers to get thoughts on the next steps, and to practice giving and receiving notes.
Competition winner Aiko Hilkinger notes (pun intended!) the benefits of these sessions:
“The notes session was a great way to revisit my script after a long time with fresh eyes and even more excited feedback. I truly loved reading everyone’s scripts and getting to collaborate on this small scale to hopefully help them continue to develop and strengthen their samples because I know for a fact they did all of that for mine.”
The WeScreenplay Development team curated 1:1 meetings for each winner specifically curated toward their writing goals and strengths.
The respective Lab recipients had individual general meetings with execs and managers from Grandview LA, Industry Entertainment, Bellevue, Authentic, Westbrook Studios, Khalabo Ink Society, Mucho Mas Media, and Gato Grande.
WeScreenplay continues to provide mentorship to writers even after competitions and labs end. Once writers connect with the WeScreenplay team, they’re part of the community! This is something competition winner Larissa Gomes points out:
“It’s like the gift that keeps on giving. I feel like we’ve been given so many opportunities to learn and to hone in on what it is that we need to do — and also to get our material out to the people that will hopefully want to do something with it.”
Some of the most inspiring things to come out of the WeScreenplay labs are the success stories. After the 2022 TV Pilot Competition, Aiko Hilkinger signed with Fourth Wall Management and Allyn Rachel signed with a Literary Agent at CAA.
The labs are mindfully crafted to strengthen writers’ scripts and hone their professional expectations. Perhaps more significantly, the labs present writers with opportunities to network with each other and to connect with industry members in meaningful ways. Competition winner Allyn Rachel sums it all up beautifully when she said:
“It was so – wholesome is the wrong word. It was wonderful. Everybody was so kind and excited and invested. We laughed a lot. And we just all showed up…having been so isolated — as everybody else has been for years at this point — it was just so nice to be in an environment with really enthusiastic peers…It was just so immediately positive. And it only got more so as it went on.”
As Tremiti reminded us, “Rising tides lift all ships,” — a phrase that is perhaps nowhere more true than in the entertainment industry. These connections are critical when it comes to finding job opportunities in this career field.
And not to toot our own horn, but WeScreenplay does proudly offer feedback to each script submitted to our competitions, so there is always a benefit to every writer who takes a chance and puts themselves out there.